Lutheran Worship and Resources

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Service of Thanksgivinig

By Norma Boecker

A Service of Thanksgiving

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 572 Dix
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Timothy 2:1-8
The Gospel Luke 17:11-19
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #568 Kremser

Now Thank We All Our God

The Hymn #305 by Franck Schmuecke dich
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #36 by Rinckart Nun danke alle

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Lord God, heavenly Father, who of Thy fatherly love hast given us Thy Son, that through faith in Him we may be saved: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that we may continue steadfast in such faith unto the end, and thus obtain everlasting salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Now Thank We All Our God

Each miracle has a different emphasis. The healing of the 10 lepers reminds us about thankfulness.

They lived a terrible life, of disease and loneliness, shunned for having a disorder and forced to live apart from healthy people. When Jesus passed through a village, 10 lepers gathered to ask for mercy. They may have done this to attract His notice by making more noise. There was also a tradition in the Roman Empire of asking a great ruler for benefits by saying, “Lord, have mercy.” Jesus responded by having them show themselves to the priests. As they headed for the priests they were healed. This had the effect of demonstrating the healing to a larger number of people, especially those within the ranks of official Judaism. In their ritual cleansing they would witness to the healing from Jesus. This took the Gospel to others but also increased the animosity of religious leaders toward Jesus.

One of the lepers came back to Jesus, glorifying God. He fell down on his face at the feet of Jesus and gave Him thanks. Jesus asked how it was that 10 were healed, but only one gave thanks.

The ironic conclusion points out – The thankful one was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

I am a little troubled that Jesus said “Thy faith hath made thee well,” because Lutheran pastors are always warning people against faith today.

If I didn’t read the Scriptures, Luther, and the Confessions, I would conclude from these dolts that faith is bad, that faith is man-made, that faith should never be mentioned in connection with the blessings of Christianity. These UOJ fanatics, who are really 19th century Pietists, think forgiveness comes to people without faith, without the Word, without the Means of Grace. Their opinion, which is not Christian doctrine, comes from the writings of George Christian Knapp and Friedrich Tholuck, both of Halle University, home turf of Pietism and rationalism.

Pietism was a reaction against the dogmatism of Lutherans and Calvinists in the era after the confessional highpoint of Lutheranism. The Lutherans and Calvinists became increasingly philosophical (rather than Biblical) about differences in doctrine. They had an unlimited number of Latin and Greek terms they used against each other. Luther was very wary of philosophy because of these dangers. It made Aristotle’s terms an addition to the revealed Word of God.

Rationalism also developed from these philosophical debates. So it is not surprising that both theologians took the first step toward Universalism by claiming that the whole world was justified (declared righteous).

So, in order to parrot this nonsense, modern Lutherans have to demean faith, which is removed from justification.

In contrast, what does the Bible teach?

God reveals His gracious will and man’s trusts in this Word. The work belongs to God because He alone creates faith in our hearts. He does this first in infant baptism and He continues through the teaching of the Word.

John’s Gospel has a Q and A on this topic:

Q - KJV John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

A - 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

John’s Gospel constantly emphasizes faith in Jesus and how unbelief condemns.

KJV John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Faith comes to people through the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. The lepers called out to Jesus because they believed in Him. They said, “Lord, have mercy.” The reputation of Jesus as a healer and miracle-worker spread everywhere, so people flocked to Him. Many did not find Him exactly as they wished, so they fell away. They did not trust the Word He spoke to them.

KJV John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Supposedly, making disciples is the cure for all ills, but these people were disciples and walked away. Many are ministers and walk away. It is not uncommon to have one man be a Lutheran pastor one year and a non-Christian years later. I have know three of them. Falling away (apostasy) is entirely man’s doing and not God’s fault.

The miracle is not intended to give us an exact percentage but it does illustrate how few there are who trust in God and give thanks to Him.

Faith and thankfulness to God are closely related. If we are not thankful, we have to ask ourselves if we really trust God’s Word. Human reason, our emotions, and our experience will corrode that trust, so the Promises of God are needed to build up that trust again.

Luther said that the only person who could comfort him was one who had gone through spiritual onslaughts (Anfechtungen) like his.

I had an interesting experience. As people know, when I use old Lutheran quotations, the Church Growth fanatics start complaining…loudly. Recently I posted this hymn in four classrooms (online). Two are Old Testament classes. Two are for introduction to college.

The Lutheran Hymnal #518

Lyrics (Original translation):

If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trust in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee
These never ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O'er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever thy Father's pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost want are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

God knows full well when time of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And set a bound to everything.

All are alike before the Highest:
'Tis easy for our God, We know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word: though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

The response from these classes was overwhelmingly positive. One after another said, “Thank you for such an inspiring hymn. I needed it this week.”
Unbelievers (whether they belong to a church or not) respond to the Gospel with faith or with derision. Believers (whether they belong to a church or not) respond to Gospel Promises with praise, thanksgiving, and more faith.

Remaining in faith can only happen through abiding in the Word, as Jesus taught.

KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

One leper, the outsider, realized that only God could cure him of the dread disease. The man did nothing, so he returned to praise God and to give his thanks to Jesus.

Because thanksgiving is related to faith, thankfulness detoxifies the ill effects of our Old Adam – anger, impatience, and bitterness. These toxic influences destroy faith unless thankfulness from faith in the Gospel counters them. Proof is the astounding attitudes of those with the greatest blessings of health and money. One time a man came in to the local tax collector’s office to pay his real estate tax. In the People’s Republic of Minnesota, that is a special burden because of all the government programs. The brought in his check and said with great energy, “I just want to say thanks for the opportunity to pay taxes in America. It is a privilege to pay taxes here.”

That man was my neighbor in New Ulm. He still spoke with an accent, because he was from Poland.

Many Lutherans are not thankful for their doctrinal heritage. They do not study Luther. They do not study the Confessions. They will not fight for the truth because the truth causes them a little bit of hardship – not much, but a enough to pinch. A lack of gratitude leads to a lack of faith. When people no longer abide in Christ through His Means of Grace, the Gospel rain moves on and waters another land.

So we must be thankful for the cross, which accompanies the Word. The cross reminds us we are still human and still forget the last Beatitude. The cross reveals the Old Adam with all his warts. The cross purifies our faith and deepens our trust in the Gospel.

I noticed this in a recent write-up of a conference – so many churches and pastors were mentioned. All the descriptions glorified man. Not one said what Paul boasted about – faithfulness to God’s Word. Galatians 1:8, not Marketing 101.


"The whole Gospel is nothing but a proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, or a publication of the same Word to all men on earth, which God Himself confirms in heaven."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 127.

"Only note and hold fast what He has preached; and if someone were to say anything that does not agree with the voice of Christ, and I find the opposite to be true, then I should say: Shame on you, you panderer, do you want to turn me into a harlot? Come now, he may say, is that I say not sacred? Reason itself considers it to be good. But you should say: I have the voice of the Bridegroom."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 268. John 3:29.

"Therefore the Christians, who are the right and dear guests at this wedding, at all times have this comfort that the others who do not belong thereto, that is both persecutors and false brethren, shall not enjoy the same."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 250. Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:1-14

"Today's Gospel also teaches by this parable that our free will amounts to nothing, since the good seed is sowed only by Christ, and Satan sows nothing but evil seed; as we also see that the field of itself yields nothing but tares, which the cattle eat, although the field receives them and they make the field green as if they were wheat. In the same way the false Christians among the true Christians are of no use but to feed the world and be food for Satan, and they are so beautifully green and hypocritical, as if they alone were the saints, and hold the place in Christendom as if they were lords there, and the government and highest places belonged to them; and for no other reason than that they glory that they are Christians and are among Christians in the church of Christ, although they see and confess that they live unchristian lives."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 103. Matthew 13:24-30;

"A church body in which human judgments are accorded an equal status with the governing principle of the Word is essentially unionistic and an unfaithful bride of the Lord." [August Pieper]
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 58.

"It is God alone who may speak the word of pardon, who can produce faith, but it is God who is speaking in the Gospel and the Sacraments (Luke 24:47: 'in His name') and creating faith through them (Acts 16:14--Lydia; James 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word of the Gospel is therefore not a dead letter, nor are the Sacraments empty symbols, but they are the power of God. The power of God is inseparably connected with, is inherent in, the means of grace." Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace,"
The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 335. Luke 24:47; Acts 16:14; James 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

"'The hearers of the Word of God who understand the doctrine of the means of grace will be diligent hearers of it. While God has commanded the pastor to preach the Gospel, He has commanded the congregation to hear it. The Gospel is the means not only of converting the sinner, but also of strengthening the faith of those who already are converted. Christians having this knowledge will be faithful and diligent in the use of the means of grace.'"
Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 346.

"A Confession is not the private expression of a religious nature. Nor does it establish some favorite Bible passage. Nor is it the stressing of Bible passages which are significant only for a specific concrete situation. A Confession is not the religious or guidance of an individual. The truth of a Confession is based expressly on the great number of Bible passages which proclaim this truth; a Confession is the comprehensive exposition of the total Scripture. For a Confession teaches "what a Christian must know for his salvation"; it teaches the Gospel. In this way a Confession as doctrine of Scripture steps out of Scripture and now becomes an approach to Scripture in that the Confession serves as a guide to the discovery of Scripture's content and as an aid in its correct interpretation."
Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, trans. Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J. A. Bouman, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961, p. 15.

"For few receive the Word and follow it; the greatest number despise the Word, and will not come to the wedding, Matthew 22:3ff. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God's foreknowledge [or predestination], but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says, 'How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!' Matthew 23:37."
Formula of Concord, SD XI. #41. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1077. Tappert, p. 623. Heiser, p. 290. Matthew 22:3ff.; 23:37.

"Therefore not only those sin against this commandment who grossly misuse and desecrate the holy day, as those who on account of their greed or frivolity neglect to hear God's Word or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine; but also that other crowd, who listen to God's Word as to any other trifle, and only from custom come to preaching, and go away again, and at the end of the year know as little of it as at the beginning. For hitherto the opinion prevailed that you had properly hallowed Sunday when you had heard a mass or the Gospel read; but no one cared for God's Word, as also no one taught it. Now, while we have God's Word, we nevertheless do not correct the abuse; we suffer ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we listen without seriousness and care."
The Large Catechism, The Third Commandment, #96-97. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 609. Tappert, p. 378. Heiser, p. 175. Exodus 20:8-11.

"Now, although both, the planting and watering of the preacher, and the running and willing of the hearer, would be in vain, and no conversion would follow it if the power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost were not added thereto, who enlightens and converts the hearts through the Word preached and heard, so that men believe this Word and assent thereto, still, neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers."
Formula of Concord SD II. #55-56. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 903. Tappert, p. 531f. Heiser, p. 246.

"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."
Augsburg Confession, XXVIII. #8. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Tappert, p. 82. Heiser, p. 23. Romans 1:16

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III. #54. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417. Heiser, p. 195.

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